Monday, December 1, 2008
First Summer Veggies - What I Learned
This was my first year with a spring/summer/fall garden. I was able to harvest tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs, cantaloupe, and watermelon, but not quite the bounty that I was hoping for. I did learn quite a few lessons along the way.
1. The seaweed spray and "buds and blooms" really seem to work well. I need to be much more diligent about using them.
2. The raised beds worked well and at 10-12" seemed to be deep enough.
3. Sugar ants are a sign of aphids. I found about 100 sugar ants on one of my pepper plants. At first I ignored it, but observed that it was odd. A few days later I looked closer and found the plant covered in aphids. A quick trip to The Natural Gardener for some all natural insecticide quickly took care of the problem.
4. Plants being cut at the base, looking as if they were cut with scissors is a sign of a cutworm. This looks like a friendly little caterpillar, but only comes out at night to destroy your lovely plants. In my case, it was the chives. I finally found this guy at dusk, when he was just making his way above ground. If you want to find them during the day, you just have to dig down an inch or two around the base of the plant.
5. Plant more of everything!
1. Due to the not too brutally hot weather, the season lasted from March through December. Due to this fact, the typical small cages will not cut it. The cage would have been fine had it been spring only, but by the time the second round came, the tomato plants had outgrown their cages, and were falling over. I wasn't able to get a late summer harvest and had to end up pulling them.
2. The tomato plants grow much larger than you can imagine. I originally planted two plants per cage, and they quickly ran out of room. Next year, one large cage per plant.
3. Marigolds do work. I had no problem with tomato horn worms all spring, and this may have been due to the abundance of marigolds I planted all around them. During the heat of the summer, the marigolds died off. When the late summer tomatoes grew in, with no marigolds to accompany them, I found four huge horn worms.
4. I don't care for the two types I planted. One was the Black Big Tex. The other was the Beefeater. I also grew romas, which did really well and tasted incredible. I found that I really like the Brandywines that I got from the farmers' market, that I definitely want to try next year.
5. I did get some cracks in the tomatoes during the warmer months. The research I found suggested that this was due to the tomatoes getting too dry and then getting a ton of water. I need to regulate this better next year. I may look into some sort of drip system.
1. Plant more! I planted 9 plants, which was nowhere near enough. I need at least twice as many next year.
2. The spanish spice did the best of any variety and have a great flavor.
3. The purple beauty variety is too small for my liking. The peppers were about 2 inches tall. The red beauty and jupiter bells were perfect.
1. Pumpkins are squash, yes it seems obvious now :) and therefore affected by the squash vine borer. If I want to try these, or any squash, next year I will need to take better precautions.
1. It seems marjoram prefers the cooler weather. I didn't get much production out of this herb all summer, but it has really taken off in November.